The New Deal certainly had its missteps. One of these was the National Recovery Administration, which attempted to consolidate industries into government-supported monopolies. The policy is generally considered a failure and was eventually shelved. But even here, the story is more complex than the detractors would have us believe; macroeconomists such as Christina Romer and Gauti Eggertsson have argued that by forcing up prices, the NRA helped to avert damaging deflation.

So although the notion that the New Deal worsened the Great Depression is likely to continue to be a cherished belief in certain right-wing circles and among a few contrarian economists, the vast bulk of evidence and expert opinion comes down in favor of FDR’s overall approach. The New Deal should have done more than it did, but it absolutely helped ameliorate the Great Depression. FDR’s legacy is thus a model for modern-day leaders to build on.

Noah Smith is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He was an assistant professor of finance at Stony Brook University, and he blogs at Noahpinion.

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